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The Gandhi Foundation was inaugurated on 10 October 1983 at a launch in Friends House, London. The catalyst for the creation of the foundation was Richard Attenborough’s movie Gandhi, which attracted large audiences around the world, due in part to the sensitive portrayal of Gandhi by Ben Kingsley.
The principal founders were:
- Richard Attenborough, President.
- Surur Hoda, General Secretary. Surur Hoda was an Indian working for the International Transport Workers' Federation in Britain.
- David Ennals, Chair. David Ennals was a life peer and former cabinet minister in a Labour Government.
- Cecil Evans, Adviser. Cecil Evans was Assistant General Secretary of Quaker Peace and Service.
Aims and activities
The principal activities of the foundation are a quarterly newsletter and three annual events: a Multifaith Service, a Summer School, and an Annual Lecture. The newsletter is entitled "The Gandhi Way".
The Multifaith Service is usually held in London on 30 January, the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination. The Service brings together people of different faiths such as Buddhist, Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh in remembrance of Gandhi and to share elements from their different traditions.
The Summer School is held in July. Around 40 people of all ages and nationalities live together for a week in the countryside, sharing the necessary tasks of cleaning, cooking, and washing-up as well as attending daily workshops which take up different aspects of the chosen theme for the year. A variety of crafts are taught, and conventional lifestyles and attitudes are challenged. The Summer School has a loyal following with many participants returning year after year.
In 2008 the Gandhi Foundation helped to organise The Festival of Non-violence. As part of the festival the British Library unveiled a new traveling exhibition "The Life of Gandhi", with six 'panels' focusing on the following aspects of Gandhi's life and work: Non-violence and the influence of Jainism, Gandhi's work in South Africa, Gandhi's Philosophy, the Non-Cooperation and Quit India movements, and the independence of India.
The Annual Lecture is usually held on or near Gandhi’s birthday, 2 October. The chronological list of lecturers together with the titles of their lectures is as follows:
- 1985 Prof. Johann Galtung, Founder, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. "Gandhi Today"
- 1986 Jonathon Porritt, Director, Friends of the Earth. "Gandhi and the Green Movement"
- 1987 Martin Ennals, Secretary General, Amnesty International. "The International Concept of Human Rights"
- 1988 Prof. Paul Blau, Austrian Green Party. "The Beginning of an Epoch: Time for the Great Peace Treaty"
- 1989 A discussion programme was broadcast on Channel 4 instead of a lecture
- 1990 David (Lord) Ennals, Chair of the Gandhi Foundation, former Cabinet Minister. "Non-violence in International Relations"
- 1991 Dr L. M. Singhvi, Indian High Commissioner. "Gandhi Today"
- 1993 The Dalai Lama (Nobel Peace Prize 1984). "Compassion: The Basis of Nonviolence"
- 1996 Lord Donald Soper. "Total Repudiation of Mass Violence the Only Way to Peace"
- 1997 Prof. Madhu Dandavate, Delhi. "Gandhi's Human Touch"
- 1998 Mairead Maguire, Peace People, Northern Ireland (Nobel Peace Prize 1976). "Building a Culture of Nonviolence"
- 1999 Bruce Kent, former Chair CND, former President, International Peace Bureau. "Time to Abolish War"
- 2000 Prof. Adam Curle, Founder, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University. "Mahatma Gandhi: the Master of Truth"
- 2001 Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Founder, the Oxford Research Group. "Gandhi's Legacy: the Vibrancy of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution in the 21st Century"
- 2002 John Hume MP & MEP (joint Nobel Peace Prize 1998). "An Eye for an Eye"
- 2003 Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. "India and Gandhi: Their Legacy to London"
- 2004 Helen Steven, founder of The Scottish Centre for Nonviolence, on "Our World at the Crossroads: Nonviolence or Nonexistence".
- 2005 Sir Mark Tully, former BBC South Asia correspondent, on "Was the Mahatma too Great a Soul? Pulling Gandhi off his Pedestal"
- 2006 Kamalesh Sharma, Indian High Commissioner to the UK, on "Encounters with Gandhi"
- 2007 Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Centennial Professor, Centre for the Study of Global Governance, LSE, and Patron of the Gandhi Foundation
- 2008 Rev. Harold Good, independent witness to the disarmament conducted under General John de Chastelain
- 2009 Aftab Alam, Justice of the Supreme Court of India. "The Role of the Indian Supreme Court in Upholding Secularism in India"
- 2010 Panel discussion, including Denis Halliday who was on the Gaza flotilla, representatives of the Parents Circle-Families Forum, Huw Irranca-Davies and Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh.
Gandhi International Peace Award
In 1998 the prestigious Gandhi International Peace Award was inaugurated. Recipients have included:
- 1998 Michael Harbottle, founder of Generals for Peace
- 1999 Nicholas Gillett, a lifelong peace educator
- 2000 Adam Curle, first Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University
- 2001 Jubilee 2000 founders Martin Dent and William Peters
- 2003 Denis Halliday (2003), former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. In his acceptance speech  he described Gandhi as one of his formative influences.
- 2004 Helen Steven and Ellen Moxley, for their work in campaigning against weapons of mass destruction and the arms industry over the past 30 years.
- 2005 Clive Stafford Smith, human rights lawyer, for his work representing Guantanamo detainees and campaigning against extraordinary rendition.
- 2006 Shabana Azmi, Indian film actress, social activist and United Nations Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador. The award was for Ms. Azmi's tireless work over many decades helping the slum dwellers of Mumbai through the organisation Nivara Haak, her activism in championing women's rights and her passionate opposition to religious fundamentalism.
- 2007 Media Lens founders David Edwards and David Cromwell. Media Lens is a British online media analysis website, set up in 2001, providing detailed and documented criticism of bias and omissions in the British media. In his acceptance speech  David Cromwell cited Gandhi's maxim that "non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind".
- 2008 Rev. Harold Good OBE & Father Alec Reid CSSR, for their work in Northern Ireland as independent witnesses to the disarmament conducted under General John de Chastelain.
- 2009 Coram Children's Legal Centre (CLC)
- 2010 The Parents Circle-Families Forum (PC-FF)
- 2011 Binayak Sen and Bulu Imam for their humanitarian work with India's Adivasis. The award was presented by Lord Bhikhu Parekh.
- 2012 St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group, for their humanitarian work.
- 2013: Jeremy Corbyn, for his "consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence."
- "The Gandhi Way".
- "The Big Hope Exhibition Programme". Liverpool Hope University.
- John Pilger (29 November 2007). "The Cyber Guardians of Honest Journalism". New Statesman.
- Denis Halliday. "2003 Gandhi International Peace Award acceptance speech".
- David Cromwell. "2007 Gandhi International Peace Award acceptance speech".
- "The Gandhi Foundation Peace Award and Annual Lecture 2009". gandhifoundation.org. The Gandhi Foundation. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2010". gandhifoundation.org. The Gandhi Foundation. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
- "The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2011". gandhifoundation.org. The Gandhi Foundation. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2012". gandhifoundation.org. The Gandhi Foundation. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
- "The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2013". gandhifoundation.org. The Gandhi Foundation. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.